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Diversity News


Eight Students Receive LSAT Prep Scholarships from Warner

Eight minority students have received Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT, Preparation scholarships from Warner Norcross + Judd LLP. 
 
Now in its 11th year, the program provides scholarships to enable selected minority students at Michigan colleges to attend a study course designed to prepare them to take the LSAT. Studies have shown that students who take a formal LSAT prep course score higher on the test, which determines entrance into law school. 
 
The 2018 scholarship winners are:
 
  • Julia Alexander, Oakland University
  • Anna Buckingham, Calvin College
  • Kierra Gray, University of Michigan Ann Arbor
  • Alexandria Jackson, Western Michigan University
  • Tierra Love-Jones, Davenport University
  • Allison Wilder, Davenport University
  • Desirae Williams, Central Michigan University
  • Claudia Yasso, Wayne State University
 
The LSAT program is one of two scholarship initiatives offered by the firm to promote diversity in the legal profession. Warner also sponsors a Minority Scholarship Program that provides financial support to students pursuing a legal career. Since it began offering scholarships, Warner has provided more than $185,000 to support programs that encourage minority students to pursue a law career.
 
For more information on these scholarships, visit wnj.com/Careers/Diversity/Minority-Scholarships-and-Applications.
 
Warner Norcross Announces Winners, Honorable Mentions of MLK Essay Contest

The impact made by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is remembered and celebrated each year, noting the importance of his legacy and work. This year, Warner Norcross + Judd asked sixth grade students in Grand Rapids to enter an essay contest to discuss the lasting impacts of his legacy.
 
In its 13th year, the contest – which was open to all sixth graders in the Grand Rapids Public School district – asked students to explore the work of Dr. King. Students wrote about the impact he had on equal rights in society, a conversation they would have with Dr. King or the impact one of his many famous quotes has had on their lives.
 
In response, the firm received 342 essay submissions – 28 more than last year – from 16 different schools. Essays were judged by more than 50 Warner Norcross attorneys and staff, following the Michigan Education Assessment Program guidelines for narrative writing. The essays were evaluated for ideas, organization, style and conventions.
 
This year’s winners are:
 
  • R’mani Belcher, Riverside Middle School, grand prize
  • Alayne Anderson, Center for Economicology, first runner-up
  • Sha’Myah Dixon, Riverside Middle School, second runner-up
 
Additionally, 23 students from eight different schools received honorable mentions. They attend C.A. Frost Environmental Science Academy, Center for Economicology, Grand Rapids Montessori, Grand Rapids Public Museum School, Harrison Park School, John Ball Zoo School, Riverside Middle School and Sherwood Park.
 
All winning and honorable mention students and their parents are invited to attend the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Program held Monday, Jan. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Fountain Street Church. Belcher will read her essay, and all others will be invited to stand for recognition.
 
Additionally, the grand prize winner and, if time permits, the two runners-up will be given an opportunity to read their essays at the Monday, Feb. 5 GRPS Board of Education meeting, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. Warner Norcross Diversity Partner Rodney Martin will be in attendance at both programs to introduce the winners.
 
Each winning and honorable mention student will receive a gift card to Schuler Books & Music and all others will receive a personalize certificate of participation.
 
The winning essays will be published on the Warner Norcross diversity website, http://diversity.wnj.com.
 
Warner Norcross Announces Winners of 2017 MLK Essay Contest

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a major impact on the lives of many and his legacy still rings true today. This year, Warner Judd + Norcross LLP asked sixth grade students in Grand Rapids to enter an essay contest to discuss the lasting impacts of his legacy.
 
Now in its 12th year, the contest asks students to explore the work of Dr. King. Students wrote about the impact he had on equal rights in society, a conversation they would have with Dr. King or the impact of one of his many famous quotes has had on their lives. The competition is open to all sixth graders in the Grand Rapids Public Schools district.
 
This year the firm received 314 essay submissions from 10 different schools. Essays were judged by more than 50 Warner Norcross attorneys and staff according to Michigan Education Assessment Program guidelines for narrative writing. The essays were evaluated for ideas, organization, style and conventions.
 
This year’s winners are:
  • Tess Cepaitis, Riverside Middle School, grand prize
  • Myaja Dunning, Gerald R. Ford Academic Center, first runner-up
  • Carmen Perdomo, Southwest Community Center, second runner-up
Each winning student will receive a a gift card to Schuler Books and Music.  Additionally, 24 students from seven schools received honorable mention recognition. They each will receive a gift card to Schuler Books and Music. Every student who submitted an essay will receive a certificate of participation.
 
Cepaitis and all winners are invited to attend the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Program held Jan. 16 at 6:30 p.m. at Fountain Street Church. All winners will be recognized by their peers and parents and listen to Cepaitis read her winning essay.
 
The grand prize winner and, if time permits, the two runners-up will be given an opportunity to read their essays at the GRPS Board of Education meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 20. Warner Norcross Diversity Partner Rodney Martin will be in attendance at both programs to introduce the winners.
 
The winning essays will be published on the Warner diversity website, http://diversity.wnj.com.

Four Warner Norcross Minority Scholarships Awarded to Assist Students with Legal Studies

Grand Rapids Community Foundation recently awarded the Warner Norcross + Judd LLP scholarships to four minority students to assist them in furthering their legal studies.

Two students received competitive academic scholarships that are administered and awarded by the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. Now in its 16th year, the Warner Norcross scholarship provides monetary assistance to help cover the educational costs associated with a law degree or paralegal studies.

The 2016 scholarship winners are:
 
  • Brenda Garcia of Grand Rapids, Law School Scholarship
  • Brian Jones of West Bloomfield, Paralegal/Legal Assistant Scholarship
In addition, two students have received scholarships from Warner Norcross to help them with preparation for the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT. This is the ninth year Warner Norcross has offered the program that enables selected minority students at Michigan colleges to attend a study course designed to prepare them for the exam. Studies show those who take the prep course score higher on the test, which determines law school entrance.

The 2016 recipients are:
 
  • Stephen Dunn, Central Michigan University
  • Kristine Tackie, Calvin College

Since it began offering scholarships, Warner has provided more than $162,000 to support programs that encourage minority students to pursue a law career. To date, the scholarships have assisted 78 students.

Warner established the tuition scholarship fund at Grand Rapids Community Foundation in 1998; the first scholarship was awarded in 2001. The winners were chosen after reviewing essays that summarized the goals and challenges that drew them to the field of law.

Garcia, who received the firm’s $5,000 Law School Scholarship, received her bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University and plans to attend the Michigan State University College of Law.

She said she was drawn to MSU because of its Immigration Law Clinic. She said she wants to devote her legal career to helping those who are devoted Americans but are struggling with being in the “shadows” because of their legal status.

“I firmly believe education is a powerful tool and with my Juris Doctor I want to work within immigration helping undocumented families,” Garcia said. “My long-term goal is to work at solving the core issues of our immigration system by being an advocate and a liaison between the community and those in political power.”

Jones, who received the law firm’s $2,000 Paralegal/Legal Assistant Scholarship, plans to complete his degree at Oakland Community College. He said his chosen career path stems from personal experience in the court system, which ultimately led to incarceration at age 18. He recalls not understanding the process or documents and vowed he would never again be ignorant on these matters, saying, “the day I walked into Michigan Reformatory prison, my interest in the law was born.”

His incarceration has created roadblocks, but he forges ahead.

“Working as a paralegal is the one place that I know my poor decision at 18 will not be held against me,” Jones said.

For more information on these scholarships you may visit http://www.wnj.com/Careers/Diversity/Minority-Scholarships-and-Applications. (7/15/16)
 
Warner Norcross Provides 2015 Minority Scholarships

For the 15th consecutive year, the law firm of Warner Norcross & Judd LLP has provided academic scholarships to assist minority students from Michigan in completing their legal studies.
 
A competitive scholarship administered and awarded by the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, the Warner Norcross scholarship program provides monetary assistance to students to help cover the educational costs associated with a law degree or paralegal studies.  The 2015 recipients are:
  • Lakisha D. Favorite of Benton Harbor, Law School Scholarship
  • NaChelle D. Webster of Detroit, Paralegal/Legal Assistant Scholarship
Since it began offering scholarships, Warner Norcross has provided more than $162,000 to support programs that encourage minority students to pursue a career in the law.  To date, the firm has provided scholarships to nearly 80 students.
 
The 2015 winners were chosen by a selection committee at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation based on essays that outlined personal goals and challenges that have drawn them into the field of law.  Warner Norcross established the scholarship fund at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation in 1998; the first scholarship was awarded in 2001.
 
Favorite, who received the law firm’s $5,000 Law School Scholarship, earned her bachelor’s degree from Spelman College in Atlanta. As an undergrad, Favorite chose to major in English so she would grow accustomed to the large amount of reading and writing she knew would face in law school.
 
Favorite plans to attend the University of Michigan Law School. Upon becoming an attorney, she intends to improve federal policy, “transform institutions” and ensure essential resources for individuals in need.
 
“Having accepted an offer of admission into the University of Michigan Law School, I am eager to exercise the law’s power as a change agent for troubled communities,” Favorite said.
 
Webster received the law firm’s $2,000 Paralegal/Legal Assistant Scholarship. She plans to complete her degree at Oakland Community College and hopes to use her education to become a certified paralegal. She plans to continue to develop her work as a freelance paralegal as a flexible income source in the event she decides to further her education by attending graduate school.  Her career plans include becoming a member of the U.S. Senate. 
 
“I chose the Oakland Community College paralegal program because it is ABA accredited,” Webster said. “I knew I would get a quality education that would allow me to compete in the workplace with my peers.”
 
In order to be considered for a scholarship, applicants must:
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher
  • Be a Michigan resident accepted to or currently attending an accredited law school within the U.S. or a non-Michigan resident attending a Michigan law school (for the Law School Scholarship)
  • Be a Michigan resident enrolled in an accredited college or university in Michigan (for the Paralegal Scholarship)
  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Submit a statement of goals and aspirations related to their legal studies
  • Be a member of an ethnic or racial minority
In addition to its longstanding tuition scholarship program, Warner Norcross also annually provides scholarships to minority students in their junior or senior year of college to pay the costs of a study course for the Law School Admission Test.  Information about these scholarship programs is available on the firm's website at http://www.wnj.com/Careers/Diversity/Minority-Scholarships-and-Applications. (7/16/15)


Seven Students Receive LSAT Prep Scholarships from Warner Norcross

Seven minority students have received Law School Admissions Test Preparation, or LSAT, scholarships from Warner Norcross & Judd LLP.
 
Now in its eighth year, the program provides scholarships to enable selected minority students at Michigan colleges to attend a study course designed to prepare them to take the LSAT. Studies have shown that students who take a formal LSAT prep course score higher on the test, which determines entrance into law school. 
 
The 2015 scholarship winners are:
  • Valerie Cook, Eastern Michigan University
  • Angel Gamon, Grand Valley State University
  • Nimsy Garcia, Oakland University
  • Jewel Haji, Grand Valley State University
  • Jameelah Sabir, University of Michigan – Dearborn
  • Prathibha Singh, Ferris State University
  • Brie Starks, University of Michigan
 The LSAT program is one of two scholarship initiatives offered by the firm to promote diversity in the legal profession. Warner Norcross also sponsors a Minority Scholarship Program that provides financial support to students pursuing a legal career. (6/10/15)



Warner Norcross Announces Winners of MLK Essay Contest


Warner Norcross & Judd LLP announced the results of its 10th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Contest.
 
The contest, which was open to all sixth-graders at Grand Rapids Public Schools, asked the students to prepare an essay focused on how Dr. King’s legacy of peace and justice applies to the world in which they live.  This year’s competition included a record 327 entries from students at 10 schools.
 
The winners were:
 
  • Bodie Bickford, Center for Economicology, grand prize
  • Tanya Floyd, Riverside Middle School, first runner-up
  • Demarus Jackson, Riverside Middle School, second runner-up

Each winning student will receive a certificate of deposit and a gift card to Schuler Books and Music.  Additionally, 22 students from five schools received honorable mention recognition. They each will receive a gift card to Schuler Books and Music. 
 
Bickford has been invited to read the top-winning essay at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Community Peace Program at 12:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 19 following the Community Peace March and again at the Annual Celebration program at 6 p.m.  Both events will be held at the Grand Rapids Community College Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse. All winners and honorable mentions are invited to attend both events and will be recognized as a group.
 
The three winners will be given an opportunity to read their essays at the GRPS Board of Education meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 20, if time permits.  Warner Norcross Diversity Partner Rodney Martin will be in attendance to introduce the winners.
 
The winning essays will be published on the Warner Norcross diversity website: http://diversity.wnj.com.
 
Essays were judged by more than 50 Warner Norcross attorneys and staff according to Michigan Education Assessment Program guidelines for narrative writing.  The essays were evaluated for ideas, organization, style and conventions. (1/12/15)

Warner Norcross Awards 2014 Minority Scholarships

For the 14th consecutive year, the law firm of Warner Norcross & Judd LLP has awarded academic scholarships to assist minority students from Michigan complete their legal studies.
 
A competitive scholarship administered and awarded by the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, the Warner Norcross scholarship program provides monetary assistance to students to help cover the educational costs associated with a law degree or paralegal studies.  The 2014 recipients are:
 
  • Ka’nea K. Brooks of Ypsilanti, Law School Scholarship
  • Veronica A. Foster of Southfield, Paralegal/Legal Assistant Scholarship
 
Since it began awarding scholarships, Warner Norcross has awarded more than $155,000 to support programs that encourage minority students to pursue a career in the law.  To date, the firm has award scholarships to more than 70 students.
 
The 2014 winners were chosen by a selection committee at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation based on essays that outlined personal goals and challenges that have drawn them into the field of law.  Warner Norcross established the scholarship fund at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation in 1998; the first scholarship was awarded in 2001.
 
Brooks, who received the law firm’s $5,000 Law School Scholarship, earned her bachelor's degree from The Ohio State University.  Even as a first-generation college graduate, Brooks knew she would become an attorney, noting “As far back as I can remember, I was confident that I would become a lawyer.”
 
Brooks plans to attend Emory Law School, where she has received a merit scholarship to finance her legal education.  She based her decision to attend Emory on a number of factors.
 
“The students and faculty are welcoming and engaging,” she explained. “The law school has several centers and clinics that will allow me to explore my interest in human rights, educational policy and juveniles.”
 
Foster received the law firm’s $2,000 Paralegal/Legal Assistant Scholarship. She plans to complete her degree at Oakland Community College and hopes to use her education to supplement her experiences as a legal secretary and law librarian. Her career goals include work in civil litigation and appeals.
 
“I hope to become an invaluable asset to my future employer,” Foster said. “The paralegal certificate from OCC will provide the foundational skills necessary for longevity and stability in the profession. The existence of the Warner Norcross & Judd Paralegal Assistant scholarship is encouraging because it … promotes minority participation in the profession. It is truly a catalyst to opportunity.”
 
In order to be considered for a scholarship, applicants must:
 
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher
  • Be a Michigan resident accepted to or currently attending an accredited law school within the United States or a non-Michigan resident attending a Michigan law school (for the Law School Scholarship)
  • Be a Michigan resident enrolled in an accredited college or university in Michigan (for the Paralegal Scholarship)
  • Demonstrate financial need
  • Submit a statement of goals and aspirations related to their legal studies
  • Be a member of an ethnic or racial minority
 
In addition to its longstanding tuition scholarship program, Warner Norcross also annually awards scholarships to minority students in their junior or senior year of college to pay the costs of a study course for the Law School Admission Test.  Information about these scholarship programs is available on the firm's website at http://www.wnj.com/Careers/Diversity/Minority-Scholarships-and-Applications. (7/15/14)


Six Students Receive LSAT Prep Scholarships from Warner Norcross

Six minority students have received Law School Admissions Test Preparation, or LSAT, scholarships from Warner Norcross & Judd LLP.
 
Now in its seventh year, the program provides scholarships to enable selected minority students at Michigan colleges to attend a study course designed to prepare them to take the LSAT.  Studies have shown that students who take a formal LSAT prep course score higher on the test, which determines entrance into law school. 
 
The 2014 scholarship winners are:
 
  • Destiny M. Carter, University of Michigan
  • Brenda Garcia, Grand Valley State University
  • Marlin Gutierrez McCoy, University of Michigan
  • Sandy N. Nguyen, Grand Valley State University
  • Baltazar Nuñez-Aguado, Hope College
  • Kashira Doné Patterson, University of Michigan
 
The LSAT program is one of two scholarship initiatives offered by the firm to promote diversity in the legal profession.  Warner Norcross also sponsors a Minority Scholarship Program that provides financial support to a selected law, paralegal and legal secretarial student. (5/16/14)

 

Radio Interview with Rodney Martin, Diversity Partner at Warner Norcross


Rodney Martin, Diversity Partner at Warner Norcross was interviewed March 13, 2014 on WJRW radio to discuss the Diversity and Inclusion program at Warner Norcross. Click here to listen to the interview.







Warner Norcross Awards 2013 Minority Scholarships

For the 13th consecutive year, the law firm of Warner Norcross & Judd LLP has awarded academic scholarships to assist minority students from Michigan complete their legal studies.

The Warner Norcross scholarship program provides monetary assistance to students to help cover the educational costs associated with a law degree or paralegal studies.  The 2013 recipients are:
 
  • Bernadette Walli of Pierson, Law School Scholarship
  • Brenda P. Garcia of Grand Rapids, Paralegal/Legal Assistant Scholarship

Since it began its scholarship programs, Warner Norcross has awarded more than $133,000 to support programs that encourage minority students to pursue a career in the law.

The 2013 winners were chosen by a selection committee at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation based on essays that outlined personal goals and challenges that have drawn them into the field of law.  The funds for the scholarships come from the Warner Norcross Corporate Advised Fund at Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

Walli, who received the law firm’s $5,000 Law School Scholarship, earned her bachelor's degree from Grand Valley State University. During school, Walli travelled abroad to study in Peru where she volunteered for an embassy organization that provided legal advocacy services for domestic workers. There she recognized how knowledge of the law could give her a unique opportunity to prevent exploitation of minority populations back in the United States. Walli attends Columbia Law School.

Garcia received the law firm’s $2,000 Paralegal/Legal Assistant Scholarship. With parents who both experienced discrimination and prejudice as first-generation immigrants to the United States, Garcia cultivated ambition and determination as a result of witnessing her parents’ struggles and sacrifice.  She plans to complete her degree at Grand Valley State University before attending law school to become an immigration attorney.

In order to be considered for a scholarship, applicants must:
 
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher;
  • Be a Michigan resident accepted to or currently attending an accredited law school within the United States, or a non-Michigan resident attending a Michigan law school (for the Law School Scholarship);
  • Be a Michigan resident enrolled in an accredited college or university in Michigan (for the Paralegal Scholarship);
  • Demonstrate financial need;
  • Submit a statement of goals and aspirations related to their legal studies; and
  • Be a member of an ethnic or racial minority.

In addition to its longstanding tuition scholarship program, Warner Norcross also annually awards scholarships to minority students in their junior or senior year of college to pay the costs of a study course for the Law School Admission Test.  Information about these scholarship programs is available on the firm's website at http://www.wnj.com/Careers/Diversity/Minority-Scholarships-and-Applications. (7/30/13)


Two Students Receive LSAT Prep Scholarships from Warner Norcross

Two minority students have received Law School Admissions Test Preparation, or LSAT, scholarships from Warner Norcross & Judd LLP.

Nadia M. Last, a Grand Rapids resident studying communications and sociology at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. and Lola Lawal, a Texas resident studying political science at the University of Michigan, are this year’s recipients of the LSAT scholarships.

Now in its sixth year, the program provides scholarships to enable selected minority students at Michigan colleges to attend a study course designed to prepare them to take the LSAT.  Studies have shown that students who take a formal LSAT prep course score higher on the test, which determines entrance into law school.

The LSAT program is one of two scholarship initiatives offered by the firm to promote diversity in the legal profession.  Warner Norcross also sponsors a Minority Scholarship Program that provides financial support to a selected law, paralegal and legal secretarial student. (7/23/13)

 
Radio interview with Rodney Martin, Diversity Partner at Warner Norcross

Rodney Martin, Diversity Partner at Warner Norcross was interviewed February 28, 2013 on WJRW radio to discuss the Diversity and Inclusion program at Warner Norcross and the Managing Partners Diversity Collaborative. Click here to listen to the interview.
 

Warner Norcross Announces Winners of MLK Essay Contest

Warner Norcross & Judd LLP announced the results of its Eighth Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest.

The contest, which was open to all sixth-grade students attending Grand Rapids Public Schools, asked the students to prepare an essay focused on how Dr. King’s legacy of peace and justice applies to the world in which they live.  More than 250 students participated in this year’s competition.

Winners were:

  • Daijon Miller, Riverside Middle School, grand prize
  • Tyevon Williams, Riverside Middle School, first runner up
  • Rashon Adams, Alger Middle School, second runner up

Each winning student will receive a certificate of deposit and a gift card to a local bookstore. Additionally, 21 students received an honorable mention and will receive a gift card to a local bookstore.  All participating students will receive a personalized certificate of completion.

Miller has been invited to read his essay at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Community Peace Program on Monday, Jan. 21 at 12:30 p.m. following the Community Peace March and again at the Annual Celebration program that evening at 6 p.m.  Both events will be held at the Grand Rapids Community College Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse. All winners and honorable mentions are invited to attend both events and will be recognized as a group.

The three winning students will be given an opportunity to read their essays at the GRPS Board of Education meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 4, if time permits. Warner Norcross Diversity Partner Rodney Martin will be in attendance to introduce the winning students and will present each winner and honorable mention student in attendance that night with their prizes and certificates.

The winning essays will be published on the Warner Norcross diversity web site, http://diversity.wnj.com.

Essays were judged by more than 40 Warner Norcross attorneys and staff according to Michigan Education Assessment Program guidelines for narrative writing.  The essays were evaluated for ideas, organization and style, along with knowledge of Dr. King and his work in the civil rights movement. (1/14/13)

Warner Norcross Awards 2012 Minority Scholarships

For the 12th consecutive year, the law firm of Warner Norcross & Judd LLP has awarded academic scholarships to minority students from Michigan who are completing their legal studies.

The Warner Norcross scholarship program provides monetary assistance to students to help cover the educational costs associated with a law degree or paralegal studies. The 2012 recipients are:

  • Jaime L. Cagle of Muskegon, Paralegal/Legal Assistant Scholarship
  • Thomas O. Huynh of Shelby Township, Law School Scholarship

Since it began its scholarship programs, Warner Norcross has awarded more than $120,000 to support programs that encourage minority students to pursue a career in the law.

The 2012 winners were chosen by a selection committee at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation based on essays that outlined personal goals and challenges that have drawn them into the field of law. The funds for the scholarships come from the Warner Norcross Corporate Advised Fund at Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

Huynh, who received the law firm’s $5,000 Law School Scholarship, earned his bachelor's degree from Michigan State University. During his time at MSU, he was diagnosed with cancer and was forced to take time off from school while he underwent a series of treatments. His experience influenced his interest in how the health-care and legal systems intersect, and he made the decision to pursue a law degree. Huynh plans to attend the University of Chicago Law School.

Cagle received the law firm’s $2,000 Paralegal/Legal Assistant Scholarship. She is currently working toward a degree at Lansing Community College. Cagle is a nationally registered paramedic, who has held positions with the North Ottawa Community Health System.

With a strong commitment to helping people, she became interested in the paralegal profession. She plans to attend Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Grand Rapids after earning her associate's degree.

In order to be considered for a scholarship, applicants must:

  • Have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher;
  • Be a Michigan resident accepted to or currently attending an accredited law school within the United States, or a non-Michigan resident attending a Michigan law school (for the Law School Scholarship);
  • Be a Michigan resident enrolled in an accredited college or university in Michigan (for the Paralegal Scholarship);
  • Demonstrate financial need;
  • Submit a statement of goals and aspirations related to their legal studies; and
  • Be a member of an ethnic or racial minority.

In addition to its longstanding tuition scholarship program, Warner Norcross also annually awards scholarships to minority students in their junior or senior year of college to pay the costs of a study course for the Law School Admission Test.  Information about these scholarship programs is available  on the firm's web site at http://www.wnj.com/Careers/Diversity/Minority-Scholarships-and-Applications.
(7/9/12)

 
Warner Norcross Signs Action Plan of the Grand Rapids Bar Association Managing Partners Diversity Collaborative
 

Warner Norcross & Judd LLP today signed the action plan of the Managing Partners Diversity Collaborative, an initiative sponsored by the Grand Rapids Bar Association and other law firms to increase diversity and promote inclusion in the area’s legal community.

Warner Norcross Managing Partner Douglas E. Wagner and Diversity Partner Rodney Martin D. were on hand for the signing ceremony at 5 p.m.  The five-year plan details how the GRBA, Warner Norcross and 12 other law firms will work to “achieve diversity and inclusion in the education, retention and promotion of Michigan’s attorneys.”

The action plan focuses on three critical issues facing the GRBA and member firms – recruitment, retention and pipeline development – and provides specific action steps to address each.   Warner Norcross also named attorneys and staff to serve on the committees formed by the Collaborative to address each:
  • Expanding the pipeline of persons of color who enter law school: Attorney Dan Borst
  • Increasing the number of attorneys of color in our organizations within five years: Marketing Director Randy Goble and Lawyer Recruiting Director Cathleen Dubault
  • Improving the retention and advancement of female attorneys and attorneys of color: Rodney Martin
“Promoting diversity and inclusion within our firm and within the Grand Rapids legal community remains one of the top priorities of Warner Norcross,” Wagner explained.  “We are very pleased to partner with the Grand Rapids Bar Association and other area law firms to develop and commit to a five-year plan of action with tangible goals.  It is important for us to work together as a legal community to address the issues of recruitment, retention and pipeline development so that we can offer more opportunities for attorneys of color and women.”

Warner Norcross was among the initial signatories of the Managing Partners Diversity Collaborative, which was established by the GRBA in June 2011.  Wagner and Martin worked closely with GRBA President Mark Smith and Executive Director Kimberly A. Coleman, along with colleagues from other firms, to develop the action plan.  Some of the recommendations include:
  • Recruiting attorneys and staff to participate in Schools of Hope tutoring programs, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and other programs
  • Expanding opportunities for the Minority Clerkship Program, including development of judicial internships
  • Developing a mentorship program for lateral associates of color to facilitate a connection to the community
  • Instituting an annual training program on diversity and inclusion, sponsored by GRBA and the Collaborative member firms
  • Developing social media strategies to provide information and resources
The action plan, which details more than 45 initiatives over a five-year timeline, can be read here.

Warner Norcross has a strong and lengthy track record in diversity initiatives, including:
  • Providing scholarships to encourage women and minorities to pursue legal careers or to prepare for the Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT, which is the entrance exam to law school.  The firm has provided more than $110,000 in scholarships over the past 10 years.
  • Supporting community initiatives, such as a mock trial program for high school students and an annual writing contest for elementary school students that honors the work and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Developing a system to monitor assignments and track progress toward partnership.
  • Offering numerous internal education programs, including a One Book, One Firm reading and discussion program, as well as lunch-and-learn programs.
  • Strengthening mentoring programs to ensure that all attorneys have the opportunity to succeed and grow.
  • Publishing a Diversity and Inclusion Annual Report, now entering its sixth year.
(3/22/12)


Warner Norcross Diversity Partner on Committee to be Honored with Giants Award

Rodney D. Martin, the Diversity Partner of Warner Norcross & Judd LLP, is among the members of the City of Grand Rapids Rosa Parks Sculpture Committee who will be honored with a 2012 Giants Award this weekend.

The 18-member Sculpture Committee will receive the William Glenn Trailblazer Award on Saturday, Jan. 28 during the annual Giants banquet at Grand Rapids Community College. The awards began in 1983 to recognize African Americans who made exceptional contributions “shaping the history and quality of life of greater Grand Rapids.”

The Rosa Parks Sculpture Committee was established by the city in 2008 to work with the city’s Community Relations Commission to design a new piece of public art of Rosa Parks for installation in the downtown park that bears her name.  The groups selected Colorado sculptor Ed Dwight, who unveiled his work of the civil rights icon in September 2010.  The bronze statue, which has a prominent place at the intersection of Pearl Street and Monroe Avenue, features a stalwart Parks standing steadfast in front of the seat she refused to yield to a white passenger in 1959, sparking the famous boycott of the Montgomery bus system.

The award is named for William Glenn, a civil rights activist and one of the first African Americans to work in a Grand Rapids war factory during World War II.  He strived to convince area factories to open their doors to African American factory workers during the War. Glenn also played a key role in planning the Campau Housing Project and was an advocate for better housing throughout the city.

As Diversity Partner of Warner Norcross, Martin leads the firm’s programs and initiatives focused on diversity and inclusion.  He serves on the State Bar of Michigan's Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee, the Cultural Diversity Council of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Advisory Council of BL2END.  He is currently serving as a facilitator for the Managing Partners Diversity Collaborative. 

Martin concentrates his practice on financial institutions, with an emphasis on bank regulatory issues, fair lending, financial privacy and related matters.  He currently serves as chair of the Financial Services Practice Group. (1/25/12)

Warner Norcross Announces Winners of MLK Essay Contest

Warner Norcross & Judd LLP announced the results of its Seventh Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest.

The contest, which was open to all Grand Rapids Public Schools’ sixth-graders, asked the students to prepare an essay focused on how Dr. King’s legacy of peace and justice applies to the world in which they live.  Approximately 200 students participated in this year’s competition.

Winners were:

  • Jamarius McBride, Riverside Middle School, grand prize
  • Kevin O'Neil, Center for Economicology, first runner up
  • Andruw Sandy, Riverside Middle School, second runner up

Each winning student will receive a U.S. savings bond and a gift card to a local bookstore.  Additionally, 20 students received an honorable mention and will receive a gift card to a local bookstore. All participating students will receive a personalized certificate of completion.

McBride has been invited to read his essay at the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Community Peace Program on Monday, Jan. 16 at 12:30 p.m. (following the Community Peace March) and again at the Annual Celebration program that evening at 6 p.m. Both events will be held at the Grand Rapids Community College Gerald R. Ford Fieldhouse.

All winners and honorable mentions are invited to attend both events and will be recognized as a group. The three winning students will be given an opportunity to read their essays at the GRPS Board of Education meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 6, if time permits. The winning essays will be published on the Warner Norcross diversity web site, http://diversity.wnj.com.

Essays were judged by more than 40 Warner Norcross attorneys and staff according to Michigan Education Assessment Program guidelines for narrative writing.  The essays were evaluated for ideas, organization and style, along with knowledge of Dr. King and his work in the civil rights movement. (1/13/12)

Warner Norcross Awards Minority Scholarships

For the 11th year in a row, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP has awarded academic scholarships to minority students from Michigan who are completing their legal studies.

The Warner Norcross scholarship program provides monetary assistance to students to help cover the educational costs associated with a law degree or paralegal studies. The 2011 recipients are:

  • Amber A. Hay of Ann Arbor, Law School Scholarship
  • Darryl L. Todd of Muskegon, Paralegal/Legal Assistant Scholarship
Since it began its scholarship programs, Warner Norcross has awarded more than $100,000 to support programs that encourage minority students to pursue a career in the law.

The 2011 winners were chosen by a selection committee at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation based on essays that outlined personal goals and challenges that have drawn them into the field of law. The funds for the scholarships come from the Warner Norcross Corporate Advised Fund at Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

Hay, who received the law firm’s $5,000 Law School Scholarship, will be a third-year law student at the University of Michigan School of Law. She serves on the executive board and is the Butch Carpenter chairperson of the Black Law Students Alliance. She is also the Michigan delegate to the National Black Law Students Association and a volunteer for Future Advocates in Training.

Hay has tutored throughout her time in law school, in addition to interning in the law office of an Ann Arbor civil rights attorney and clerking for a Detroit law firm. A native of Detroit, Hay holds an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Michigan, where she ran track. (7/19/11)

 

Warner Norcross Announces Winners of King Essay Contest

Warner Norcross & Judd LLP announced the results of its Sixth Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest.
 

The contest, which was open to all Grand Rapids Public Schools sixth-graders, asked the students to prepare an essay focused on how Dr. King's legacy of peace and justice applies to the world in which they live. Approximately 140 students participated in this year’s competition.

Winners were:

  • Violet Rose Butts, Center for Economicology, first place
  • Grace Cameron, Zoo School, first runner up
  • Alena Dickerson, Riverside Middle School, second runner up

Each winning student will receive a U.S. savings bond and a gift card to a local bookstore. Additionally, 17 students from seven schools received an honorable mention and will receive a gift card to a local bookstore.

Butts will read her essay during the Grand Rapids Community College Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration events on Monday, Jan. 17. All winners will be invited to read their essays at the Grand Rapids Public School board meeting on Monday, Feb. 7. The winning essays can be read at diversity.wnj.com/?p=469.

Essays were judged by Warner Norcross attorneys and staff according to Michigan Education Assessment Program scoring guidelines that included originality, clarity, organization and knowledge of Dr. King and his work in the civil rights movement. (1/17/11)
 

Warner Norcross Receives Racial Justice Unity Award

The law firm of Warner Norcross & Judd LLP has received the Racial Justice Unity Award in recognition of the firm's diversity initiatives.

Council 354 of the Knights of Peter Claver, the largest predominantly African-American organization within the Catholic Church, and the KPC Ladies Auxiliary presented the award to the law firm during a recent program. Warner Norcross was specifically recognized for its participation in the Institute for Healing Racism, its certification as a Full Partner by the Partners for a Racism Free Community and its commitment to reporting progress each year Diversity and Inclusion Annual Report.

Past recipients of the award have included Grand Rapids City Commissioner Elias Lumpkins, Rev. David May, The Grand Rapids Times, Faye Richardson of Steelcase, Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell and Cascade Engineering, among others.

The Knights of Peter Claver are named for St. Peter Claver, a Jesuit priest who ministered to African slaves in Colombia. (12/1/10)

Six Students Receive LSAT Prep Scholarships from Warner Norcross

Six minority students at three Michigan universities have received Law School Admissions Test Preparation scholarships from Warner Norcross & Judd LLP.

The Warner Norcross program, now in its third year, provides scholarships to enable selected minority students at Michigan colleges to attend a study course designed to prepare them to take the LSAT. Studies have shown that students who take a formal LSAT prep course score higher on the test, which determines entrance into law school.

The scholarship recipients are:

The LSAT program is one of two scholarship initiatives offered by the firm to promote diversity in the legal profession. Warner Norcross also sponsors a Minority Scholarship Program that provides financial support to a selected law, paralegal and legal secretarial student. (7/27/10)

Warner Releases Its 2009 Diversity Report

The law firm of Warner Norcross & Judd has released its fourth annual Diversity and Inclusion Annual Report. The report provides Warner's clients and the community as a whole with an update on the firm's successes in hiring women and minority attorneys and staff members as well as its initiatives to create a more inclusive workplace.

Here are a few highlights from 2009:

  • The firm received the Diversity Visionary Award from the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and the Alfred P. Sloan Award for Business Excellence in Workplace Flexibility
  • The firm elected its most diverse class ever into the partnership
  • Half of the associates who joined the firm in 2009 are women

Take a look at the report here: http://www.wnj.com/files/upload/WNJ_DAR_Final_2009.pdf
 

Warner Norcross Accepting Applications for LSAT Prep Scholarships
 

Warner Norcross & Judd LLP is now accepting applications for its Law School Admissions Test Preparation Scholarship Program.

Now in its third year, the Warner Norcross program provides scholarships to enable selected minority college students in Michigan to attend a study course designed to prepare them to take the LSAT. Studies have shown that students who take a formal LSAT prep course score higher on the test, which determines entrance into law school.

Recipients will receive scholarships of up to $1,500 for tuition for an LSAT Preparation Course offered by Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions. To be eligible for a scholarship, applicants must:

  • Be a Michigan resident or currently attending a Michigan college or university
  • Be a junior or senior
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher
  • Have a demonstrated financial need
  • Take the LSAT prep course by Dec. 1, 2010
  • Deadline for application is May 30, 2010. Applications are available online at http://www.wnj.com/files/upload/LSAT_Scholarship_Application_Form.pdf.

The LSAT program is one of two scholarship initiatives offered by the firm to promote diversity in the legal profession. Warner Norcross also annually sponsors a Minority Scholarship Program that provides financial support to a selected law, paralegal and legal secretarial student. (2/9/10)
 

Warner's Essay Contest Recognized by The Grand Rapids Press, WOOD-TV
 

For the fifth consecutive year, the law firm of Warner Norcross & Judd sponsored an essay contest to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The contest, which was open to all sixth-grade students within Grand Rapids Public Schools, challenged the students to think about how King's legacy of peace and justice applies to the world in which they live.

More than 110 students entered this year's competition. A story about the contest appeared in The Grand Rapids Press on Jan. 18. Also, Eva Aguirre Cooper of WOOD-TV8 interviewed winner Cache Allen, who attends Riverside Middle School.

Read the Press story here.

See the WOOD-TV interview here. (1/18/10)
 

Warner Norcross Announces Winners of King Essay Contest
 

Warner Norcross & Judd LLP announced the results of its Fifth Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest.

The contest, which was open to all sixth-grade students within Grand Rapids Public Schools, challenged the students to write an essay on one of four topics designed to encourage students to think about how Dr. King's legacy of peace and justice applies to the world in which they live. More than 110 students entered this year's competition.

Winners included:

  • Cache Allen, Riverside Middle School, first place
  • Miles C. Jones, C.A. Frost Environmental Science Academy, first runner up
  • Vera Spence, Harrison Middle School, second runner up
  • Jose I. Gonzales-Longoria, Southwest Community Campus, second runner up

Additionally, 17 students received an honorable mention. Winning students received either a savings bond and/or a gift certificate to a local bookstore.

Allen will read her essay the Grand Rapids Community College Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration events at 12:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 18. All winners will be invited to read their essays at the Grand Rapids Public School board meeting on Monday, Feb. 1.

Essays were judged by Warner Norcross attorneys and staff according to Michigan Education Assessment Program, or MEAP, scoring guidelines that included originality, clarity, organization and knowledge of Dr. King and his work in the civil rights movement. (1/15/10)


Warner Norcross Sponsors Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest
 

Warner Norcross & Judd LLP is inviting all sixth-grade students in the Grand Rapids Public School District to participate in its Fifth Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest.

The contest asks students to write an essay on one of four topics designed to encourage students to think about how Dr. King's legacy of peace and justice applies to the world in which they live.

Essays must be a minimum of 200 words and may be either typed double-spaced or handwritten. Each essay must be in English and include the student's name, school and teacher on each page.

Deadline for submission is Wednesday, Dec. 9. Essays should be submitted to any of the student's teachers.

Winners will be announced on Jan. 18, 2010 during the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Peace Program at 12:30 p.m. at Grand Rapids Community College. Winners will also be recognized during a program at 6:30 p.m.

Winning students will receive either a savings bond or a gift certificate to a local bookstore. Prizes and certificates will be awarded during the GRPS Board of Education meeting on Feb. 1.

Essays will be judged by Warner Norcross attorneys and staff on originality, clarity, organization and knowledge of Dr. King and his work in the civil rights movement. (12/2/09)
 

Warner Norcross Selects Book on Deaf Culture for Second in One Book, One Firm Series
 

As part of its ongoing diversity initiatives, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP has selected a book on deaf culture for the second in its popular One Book, One Firm series.

The firm, which has more than 210 attorneys in six offices across the state, will read Hands of My Father, the story of a hearing child who served as the go-between for his deaf parents and the hearing world. Participants will join in a special lunch-and-learn program on Monday, June 1, led by John McKendry, a Warner Norcross partner who is also the hearing child of deaf parents and Katie Prins, executive director of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, who is the deaf child of hearing parents.

This is the second year for the popular program, which encourages everyone at Warner Norcross to read the same book to create a common experience that serves as the basis firm-wide discussion. In 2008, the firm read Stealing Buddha's Dinner, a memoir a Michigan author about her experience as a Vietnamese girl growing up in Michigan.

The One Book, One Firm initiative was one of the programs that earned Warner Norcross recognition by Crain's Detroit Business in its annual Diversity Awards competition earlier this year. The Firm also received the Diversity Visionary Award from the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. (5/19/09)


Ten New Associates Join Warner Norcross
 

Warner Norcross & Judd LLP today welcomed 10 new attorneys to the Firm as associates.

For the second year in a row, women outnumber men in the entering class of associates, representing 60 percent of new attorneys. And once again, 40 percent of the class are members of a racial or ethnic minority.

"Our continuing efforts to build a workplace that is representative of the changing face of our community is reflected in this new class," said Douglas E. Wagner, managing partner. "The Firm is committed to maintaining a diverse and open work environment, and we are pleased to welcome this class of new associates to Warner Norcross."

The new associates have all been admitted to the State Bar of Michigan. With the exceptions of David White, who will practice in the Firm's Southfield Office, and Meggan Dyer, who will practice in the Firm's Muskegon Office, the new associates will practice in Grand Rapids. The new attorneys include:

  • Daniel W. Borst, who received his doctor of jurisprudence from Wayne State University Law School.
  • Meggan E. Dyer, who earned her law degree from Michigan State University College of Law.
  • Inga A. Hofer, who received her JD from MSU College of Law.
  • Marcus Jones, who received his law degree from MSU College of Law.
  • Julie Lam, who received her law degree from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Mo.
  • Madelaine Lane, who earned her JD from Wayne State University Law School.
  • Christine G. Maher, who earned her JD from the University of Notre Dame Law School.
  • Todd M. Neckers, who earned his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School.
  • Raquel A. Salas, who received her JD from MSU College of Law.
  • David Z. White, who received his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School.
     

Collar, Yu Chang, Land Leadership Honor
 

A pair of Warner Norcross & Judd attorneys are among the next generation of business leaders in West Michigan, according to Grand Rapids Business Journal’s biannual "40 Under 40" awards.

Melissa Collar and Albert Yu Chang, along with 38 more business leaders under the age of 40, will be honored during a Nov. 8 reception sponsored by the Journal. They also will be featured in a special supplement published by the newspaper on Nov. 5.

These awards acknowledge the up-and-coming generation of leaders who are most likely to make a positive, lasting impact on the business community.

"Albert and Melissa, we are very proud of your accomplishments and we thank you for the many significant contributions you have made to the legal profession in general, to Warner Norcross in particular, as well as to the greater West Michigan community," said Warner Managing Partner Doug Wagner.

Journal Editor Carole Valade said the paper received more nominations this year than at any time in the award's 10-year history. A panel of independent judges reviewed all the nominations and made the final selections. Panel members included Jeanne Englehart, president of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce; Tom Schwarz, director of the Grand Valley State University Center for Free Enterprise; and Paul Hense, a local accounting firm owner and a board member of the Small Business Association.

Collar and Yu Chang both are first-time recipients.

Collar is chair of Warner's Construction and Condominium practice groups, and was named a Super Lawyer in the 2007 edition of Michigan Super Lawyers. She is a member of the state board of directors for Inforum, and is professionally affiliated with Commercial Real Estate Women, Grand Rapids Association of Realtors and Homebuilders Association of Greater Grand Rapids. She also is a past winner (2006) of the YWCA’s "Woman of Distinction" award.

Yu Chang is a member of Warner's Business and International Business practice groups. He speaks Filipino, Mandarin Chinese and Minnan Chinese, and his community affiliations include serving as director and secretary of the Asian Health Outreach Foundation. He is also the Manager for Business Development – West Michigan with the Detroit Chinese Business Association and is an active member of the Chinese Association of West Michigan. He also is a vice chair of the Asia-Pacific Committee of the International Law Section of the American Bar Association, as well as a member of the State Bar of Michigan and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
 

Warner Norcross Awards Minority Scholarships
 

For the seventh consecutive year, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP has awarded academic scholarships to two minority students from Michigan who are completing their legal studies.

The Warner Norcross scholarship program provides monetary assistance to assist students in covering the educational costs associated with a law degree or paralegal studies. The 2007 recipients are:

  • Mary A. Bowen of Flushing, Law School Scholarship
  • Sarah B. Robinson of Grand Rapids, Paralegal Scholarship

"Our Firm remains committed to encouraging diversity by supporting scholarships and education programs that ensure our profession is open to all young men and women," said Douglas E. Wagner, managing partner of Warner Norcross. "We are pleased to provide scholarship assistance to Mary and Sarah, who come highly recommended for their involvement in the community and their passion for their legal studies."

The 2007 winners were chosen by a selection committee based on essays that outlined personal goals and challenges that have drawn them into the field of law.

Bowen, who received the Firm's $5,000 Law School Scholarship, will be a third-year law student at the Michigan State University College of Law. Active within the university and the community, Bowen is the associate editor of the Journal of Medicine and Law and the chapter president of the Wolverine Student Bar Association/Black Law Student Association. She was the 2007 recipient of the Lansing Black Lawyers Association John Davis Scholarship and the co-organizer of Diversity Law Day.

An active volunteer, she donates her time to the Lansing City Rescue Mission and is a past volunteer for the Genesee County Humane Society, the Salem Housing Corp., the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and the YWCA of Greater Flint.

Bowen holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan. During her undergraduate studies, she received several leadership awards, community service awards and scholarships.

Robinson received the Firm's $2,000 Paralegal/Legal Assistant Scholarship. She is currently beginning her studies toward a degree at Davenport University in Grand Rapids. She volunteers her time at Grand Rapids First and St. John's Home.

The funds for the scholarships come from WN&J's Corporate Advised Fund at Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

In order to be considered for a scholarship, applicants must:

  • Have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher;
  • Be a Michigan resident accepted to or currently attending an accredited law school within the United States, or a non-Michigan resident attending a Michigan law school (for the Law School Scholarship);
  • Be a Michigan resident enrolled in an accredited college or university in Michigan (for the Paralegal Scholarship);
  • Demonstrate financial need;
  • Submit a statement of goals and aspirations related to their legal studies; and
  • Be a member of an ethnic or racial minority.

From Gifts to Formal Titles: Common Japanese Etiquette Questions

Andrew Thorson, a partner based in Warner Norcross & Judd's Metro Detroit office, is an expert on Japanese business and that country’s unique business culture. He lived and worked in Japan for nearly a decade and is a graduate of the Kyoto University Graduate School of Law in Kyoto, Japan.

Thorson, who has spent nearly 15 years representing U.S. and Japanese companies in international transactions, recently participated in a question-and-answer session with a reporter from the in-house magazine publishing group of American Express.

Here is a sampling of that exchange which should be useful for Americans doing business with Japanese firms:

Q: When it comes to doing business and etiquette in Japan, what’s important to remember that isn’t second nature to Americans?
A: In Japan, relationships are very important. Unless you are lucky enough to have a monopoly on a highly sought after product or service, you will likely need to cultivate relationships in Japan more than in any other modern market in order to build the trust that you will need to succeed in this market.

Q: Some international etiquette is well publicized, like presenting your business card with two hands to someone in Japan or removing your shoes before entering a home. What are some other etiquette issues that Americans ought to know?
A: Surprising your counterpart is almost always never a good thing. It is a business custom in many Japanese organizations to both plan in detail and also to make decisions based upon drawn-out internal consensus-building procedures. This means that your counterpart, if he or she has shepherded the project, often has a lot at stake with respect not only to the results but the process of managing the business and relaying important messages to others in the company. Changing your mind, asking for additional concessions at the last minute, etc., will likely be met with strong opposition — perhaps anger — because returning to the company with a different request or new information will often be burdensome, if not embarrassing.

Q: Why is it important to follow protocol when doing business in Japan?
A: First and foremost, the desire to feel respected and appreciated is not unique to any culture. By showing that you have taken the time to learn basic manners that are important to your counterpart, you are showing respect. You are also showing that you are considerate, prepared and studious. These are good traits in any country.

Q: If a businessperson is unsure how to handle a certain etiquette situation, is it OK for him to ask?
A:
Most Japanese that I know are generally proud of Japanese etiquette and the cultural uniqueness of Japan. Accordingly, foreigners are not expected to understand etiquette perfectly, if at all. Many Japanese are also pleased to be able to assist foreigners and share with foreigners their insights into Japanese culture. If you show consideration and interest, it is hard to imagine that a polite and humble admission of ignorance will seriously injure your reputation.

Q: Give some examples of deal-killers.
A:
Very easy. Do not follow through on your promises and do not always do your best for your business partner. Speak openly about your interest in short-term profitability, downplay any commitment to a long-term business relationship and declare your intent to deny any responsibility beyond those in a written contract.

Q: Do the Japanese have an equivalent to the one-power-lunch-and-done American negotiating process?
A:
It has been said many times in Japan that no contract is needed when two business parties have trust and common understanding. However, achieving trust and a common understanding in Japan often means providing your Japanese counterpart with opportunities to understand your personal character. For this reason, foreigners might be asked many detailed questions about personal matters during informal sessions. This can be unnerving and border on the offensive, particularly when the information sharing is one way, as it often is. Remember, you are in a different country. If you are dealing with management-level business people at a reputable, international Japanese company, you likely are dealing with some of the most adept business people in the world. If your counterpart is sincerely spending time to get to know you (rather than to merely repay an existing debt or to avoid the appearance of not being a gracious host; neither situation is uncommon in Japan), this is a good sign for you. I have never seen a long-term business deal closed over a power lunch in Japan. However, I have seen a serious multimillion-dollar lawsuit that could not be settled by months of team negotiations settled in one evening on a napkin signed between two executives during a late night business dinner when both executives represented the trust and common understandings of their respective public companies.

Q: What do Americans need to know about greetings — specifically titles — when speaking with someone in Japan so they don’t seem rude.
A:
Don't call yourself “san.” Call your colleagues by their names, not “san.” When speaking to professors, lawyers or doctors, they are referred to as “sensei,” not “san.” For example, I call Mr. Abo, my friend and co-counsel in Japan, Abo-sensei. My Japanese law school professor is Kitagawa-sensei. As a general rule, it’s best not to try to mimic such terms as they can be insulting or embarrassing if improperly used.

Q: What are Japanese views on thank-you notes or showing appreciation for a gift?
A:
It is always appropriate to send a thank-you note and to voice appreciation for a gift. Ritual and presentation are important in Japan. Most often a gift will be simple, tastefully wrapped and of high quality. Be sure to note appreciation of special wrapping and your interest in the gift and its origination (What part of Japan does it come from? How should you use it? What does the ornamental Japanese writing mean?). Repay your counterpart when you visit or you otherwise impose with a similarly thoughtful gift of comparable value. Be careful not to escalate the gift giving as some Japanese feel morally compelled to respond with a more expensive gift. This can create an uncomfortable burden for both parties. Remember, this is a business ritual, not the type of gift giving we are used to practicing in the U.S. (such as on birthdays and anniversaries, for example).

Q: Should you open a gift in front of the gift giver?
A:
No. That is the most conservative and usually the best advice in formal situations and when you do not know your counterpart well. In such cases, unless invited to do so, it is best to not open the gift or even ask about the content in front of your counterpart. Simply voice your sincere gratitude for the gift and place it neatly at your side on the table. If you know your counterpart or otherwise have good reason to believe you can be more direct, it may be acceptable to ask your counterpart if you may open the gift. Sometimes, Japanese who are used to dealing with foreigners will be pleased to have you do so, particularly if you are good at showing gratitude. A word of caution: Be prepared to use your best poker face regardless of what you find under the wrapping! Don't sample foodstuffs in front of the gift giver. If you're allergic to it, already have one, are offended by the content, etc., never mention it.

Q: In Japan, does yes ever mean no or no mean yes?
A:
The word “no” is not often heard in Japan. Rather, instead of “no” you will hear phrases such as “it’s difficult,” “maybe” or “probably,” “we don’t know” or “we can discuss it later.” Silence is another way to say “no” in Japan. On the other hand, if you are not hearing a “yes,” it’s not necessary to give up. Polite persistence, dogged determination and your best and sincere efforts might open doors with time.

Q: Any other thoughts on Japanese business culture?
A:
Remember, Japanese are proud of the unique culture, traditions and history of Japan. Some can be sensitive to foreign criticism and opinions on the same. Avoid condescending comments about things you might see, hear and otherwise experience, regardless of how strongly you feel about it. Also avoid controversial topics that are not important to the purpose of a meeting. Such conversations are almost never necessary, are commonly inappropriate, and can be very, very risky. The concept of “face” is very strong in Japan. An unwary slight that displays disrespect might not be easily forgotten. Focus on being a good listener rather than making a point when in doubt about whether a topic or comment is appropriate.

Warner Coaches Central High School Team in Mock Trial Competition

Competing for the first time, a team of 11 students from Grand Rapids Central High School won two out of three of its trials and received an Honorable Mention in a regional mock trial competition conducted by the Michigan Center for Civic Education. The team was coached by Warner Norcross attorneys David Skidmore, Amanda Fielder and Liz van Houwelingen. The coaches began working with the students at the beginning of the school year. Eleven high school teams from around the state participated in the competition. Grand Rapids Central was the only high school from the City of Grand Rapids to participate.

The students in the competition were given a fact pattern and supporting materials from a hypothetical case. The students had to prepare to argue both sides of the case at trial, dividing up the roles of attorneys and witnesses. Teams developed their own trial strategies. The students had to prepare and deliver opening and closing statements and to prepare direct and cross-examinations of six witnesses. Team members who played the witnesses were given their character’s sworn statements, but were on their own when facing cross-examination by opposing counsel from another school.

"The students worked hard and learned a lot to prepare for the competition," says David Skidmore. "It has been real rewarding to work with them and to see their enthusiasm. I hope we have encouraged the students to aspire to become lawyers."

David, Amanda and Liz are already planning for next year’s competition. They will conduct tryouts at Grand Rapids Central High School later this spring.

Grand Rapids Press columnist Tom Rademacher featured David Skidmore and the students from Central High in his March 11 column, which is available here. (3/12/2007)


Ninth Annual Summit on Racism, Friday, March 23

Warner Norcross & Judd will once again be a sponsor of the annual Grand Rapids Summit on Racism, to be held on Friday, March 23, 2007, at DeVos Place. This year's Summit will introduce a new campaign among business, religious and civic leaders to support equality in Grand Rapids. The Summit has been conducted annually by the Grand Rapids Area Center for Ecumenism (GRACE) for the past eight years.

GRACE has been working to move from a once-a-year discussion of racism to an ongoing campaign to make Grand Rapids a more inclusive community. Through a deliberate process of planning, conference leaders have reached the point where they are prepared to launch the new campaign at the Summit later this month. Nine members of the Firm attended the Summit last year, and five members participated in a follow-up session where the structure of the new campaign began to take form.

The central focus of the campaign will be to bring together businesses, churches and civic organizations that wish to be publicly identified as promoting equality in the Grand Rapids community. A committee of local business, church and civic leaders has been working to develop standards that will be used to identify organizations with a demonstrated commitment to equality within their organization and in the community. Warner Norcross & Judd was one of the organizations surveyed by the committee in order to establish a set of best practices. Organizations that achieve the standards established by the committee will be publicly recognized. (3/12/2007)


Warner Norcross Participates in 2nd Annual NALP Diversity Summit

Warner Norcross participated for a second year in the Diversity Summit sponsored by the National Association of Law Placement. The conference, held in Chicago on March 2, brought together law firms and law school placement professionals from around the country to exchange information on current challenges and innovations in achieving law firm diversity. Topics included measuring and holding law firms accountable for diversity, understanding white privilege in the context of a law firm, developing a law firm diversity plan, and improving retention rates for diverse attorneys. Participating from Warner Norcross were Dan Ettinger (Chair of our Professional Staff Committee), Carin Ojala (Director of Professional Development), and Rodney Martin (Diversity Partner). (3/2/2007)
 

Three Warner Norcross Attorneys Participate in Leadership Academy for Women of Color Attorneys

Three Warner Norcross attorneys attended a conference to help women of color attorneys in law firms and legal departments develop critical skills necessary to success in the legal profession. Yvette Bradley, Jennifer Nichols and Ali Mulder each traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, on February 8 and 9, 2007, to attend the conference, which was conducted by The Leadership Academy for Women of Color Attorneys. The program included discussions of mentoring, networking, marketing, work/life effectiveness, and the recent survey of women of color attorneys by the American Bar Association.
 

Warner Norcross Renews Commitment to Radio in Black and White

Warner Norcross has renewed its commitment to sponsor Radio in Black and White, a one-hour weekly radio program that features candid discussions of race and diversity. Longtime friends Rick Wilson and Skot Welch host the program, which can be heard every Monday morning at 8 a.m. on WTKG (AM 1230) in Grand Rapids. Podcasts of the program can be downloaded from the program's Web site (www.radioinblackandwhite.com) or from iTunes.
 

Warner Norcross Diversity Efforts Featured in Legal News

The Detroit Legal News and the Oakland County Legal News have featured the diversity efforts of Warner Norcross in their recent editions. Reporter Christine L. Mobley interviewed Warner Norcross Diversity Partner Rodney Martin about the Firm's diversity initiatives, which were highlighted in the Firm's 2006 Diversity Annual Report. You can view a copy of the article here.


Warner Norcross Announces Winners of Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay Contest

On January 15, 2007, Warner Norcross announced the winners of the Second Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Essay contest, which is sponsored by the Firm. The essay contest is conducted in partnership with the Grand Rapid Public Schools. GRPS students in the sixth grade are asked to write short essays about one of three quotes from the late civil rights leader and to explain how they can make Dr. King's dream a reality in our community.

Over 150 students entered the contest this year. The essays were judged by Warner Norcross attorneys and staff based on originality, clarity, organization, and knowledge of Dr. King and his work in the civil rights movement. Winning students received either a savings bond or a gift certificate to a local bookstore.

For information about the winners, see the Press Release.
 

Warner Norcross Publishes First Diversity Annual Report

As part of the Firm's commitment to diversity, Warner Norcross has published its first Diversity Annual Report. The 2006 report, which can be downloaded by clicking here, details the progress we made on our diversity initiatives during 2006. Highlights of the report include:
 

  • Steps the Firm has taken to create a more inclusive workplace
  • Successes of our efforts to recruit and retain women and minority attorneys
  • Community and professional activities that we undertake
  • Financial support that we provide for scholarships, events, exhibitions and related local and state programs

Expanding Opportunities for Women:  Warner Norcross Joins Catalyst

Warner Norcross is the first law firm in Michigan to join Catalyst, one of the nation's leading research and advisory organizations working with businesses and professional firms to build inclusive environments and expand opportunities for women at work. Catalyst (www.catalyst.org) conducts research on all aspects of women's career advancement and provides global strategic consulting services.

"Catalyst is a great resource for research and information about issues faced by women in the workplace and the initiatives that businesses have taken to address those issues," said Dan Ettinger, Chair of the Warner Norcross Professional Staff Committee. "We will be using Catalyst to advise us as we review the Firm's flextime policy for attorneys and study work-life effectiveness issues."

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